New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015

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They say that the things you do to start a new year set the tone for that year. If that’s true, then I think 2015 is going to be GREAT! I kicked off my 2015 by hosting a New Year Zumba Glow Party. These things are always a ton of work, but they’re so worth it! Plus, I usually have a lot of help from my team and friends to make them happen. But, seriously what better way to kick off a new year than by dancing with friends? You get fitness, friendship, healthy living, dancing, and FUN. These are all things I’d love to enjoy in 2015.

Here are some photos from the New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015:

New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015

{Instructor team}

New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015

New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015

New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015

{My fabulous new blacklight}

New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015

{So glad I made these Zumba cut-outs. They took a couple hours, but they’re worth it.}

New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015

{We had a great turn out and the energy was so amped up!}

New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015

New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015

{I asked a couple of the girls to use this Gaffer tape to make shapes on the floor – love the lightning bolts!}

New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015

I’ve done about 4 or 5 Zumba glow parties now, and I like to make them a little better every time. For this party, my big enhancement was the addition of a professional quality blacklight (I’ve previously used the tubes exclusively). And thank goodness I got it, too. The party was almost a disaster, but so many things fell into place to make it work. Phew!

I showed up to our location only to find the door locked for the room we were supposed to use. Nooooo! I had previously inquired about using the half gym on-site, but they said we were supposed to use our regular room. Given the lack of options, I headed to the gym, crossed my fingers, and pulled on the door handle. It opened! Hazzah! Now, we had two potential problems: 1) Were there other events there (why else would they not have given us the go ahead before)? 2) Would the lights be enough to fill this (much) larger space?

Problem #1 worked itself out. By chance, someone who worked with the facility stopped by while we were setting up, and they were able to validate we could use the gym. Problem #2 was my main concern, though. I’d tried bringing my tube blacklights into this space before, and they were not even close to bright enough. Was my party going to be a failure before it started? My last hope was my new pro DJ light.

So, problem #2, it was touch and go for awhile. After the last Halloween Glow Party, I spent several hours researching ways to make the next one better. For lighting, I stumbled upon some great videos by a company called B2 Lighting FX. Seriously, check out their videos. The guys behind the videos are not only very knowledgeable but friendly and funny, too. When I had called to inquire about a light I saw in one video, they recommended a different one that was actually a little cheaper (The American DJ Eco UV Bar 50). I ended up following their recommendation, and I got free (and fast) shipping, too. In our conversation, I asked how many of the original lights I’d asked about I’d need to light up a gym. They said SIX! Whoa! I was thinking one would be a pretty hefty investment for me since I’m not a professional DJ/light company. I’m just a person who likes to go all out when I do something. Hehe.

Anywho, remembering the estimate of six lights being needed but remembering that the B2DJ guys said the one I purchased was stronger than the original, I could only hope for the best as I started setting up my light stand. I attached the light and hoisted it up, flipped on the switch and…it looked like it was going to work! I was feeling thankful I had listened to the B2 Lighting FX team and purchased the stronger light. It wasn’t until we had the whole room fully set up and the playlist going that I was able to breathe easy. I probably could have used another pro light or two for a really strong glow look, but overall, I thought it looked GREAT! We pulled it off!

Here’s my New Year Zumba Glow Party 2015 Playlist:

  1. Hips Don’t Lie
  2. Quiero Bailar (All Through the Night)
  3. Boom
  4. Limbo
  5. Baby Come Back
  6. La Comay
  7. 11:59
  8. I’m Into You
  9. Boro Boro
  10. Mi Chica Sexy
  11. Puakenikeni
  12. Bailando
  13. Bambalam
  14. Pegate
  15. Valio la Pena
  16. Promise

After the initial set-up worries, the rest of the party went off without a hitch! Class was super loud, and I think everyone had a great time. Woohoo!

Special thanks to the B2 Lighting FX team for their awesome customer service and lighting advice. If you’re thinking of getting any lights or special effects tools, call them. I know I will if I ever need more lights. They were very helpful and can steer you in the right direction. They are also currently offering free shipping.

Side note: I’m gathering information to do a how-to post about Glow Parties if anyone’s interested. I think the tips could be used to throw any kind of Glow Party, not just one for Zumba.

Happy New Year, everyone! Thanks for stopping by!

Christmas 2014 in Photos

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Happy Holidays! Here are some photos from our 2014 Christmas:

Christmas 2014 in Photos

Christmas 2014 in Photos

Christmas 2014 in Photos

Christmas 2014 in Photos

Christmas 2014 in Photos

Christmas 2014 in Photos

Christmas 2014 in Photos

Christmas 2014 in Photos

We were able to see both families this holiday season, which was really nice. I’m still in vacation mode and hoping to enjoy some more R&R. I’m also gearing up for the new year with some good books, quality time for planning and organization, and a little fun, too! PS Did you see the “Santa potatoes” above?

In other news, can you believe our FIFTH annual Eat in Month is just a few days away. Time to get menu planning and grocery shopping! If you’re not familiar with Eat in Month, you can check out the 2013 post by clicking here. I’ll be posting details for the 2015 challenge soon. Get ready to sign up! In the meantime, check out this Pinterest board of Eat in Month ideas I created for the challenge.

Thanks for stopping by!

Filipino Easter Potluck

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When I told my family we were visiting for Easter, my mom shared some happy news. We were all invited over to a family friend’s house for a Filipino Easter Potluck. Woohoo! My sister and I grew up going to many Filipino potlucks, but I haven’t been to one in years. It seems like we’re always out of town when they happen, so I was excited we’d be able to make this one.

Filipino Easter Potluck

Mom was in charge of making flan and pancit.

Filipino Easter Potluck

Sis, Bailey, and I assisted with the cooking. Bailey is such a good little kitchen helper.

Filipino Easter Potluck

We had a nice spread for Easter – lots of traditional Filipino party foods.

Sis and I always joke how Filipino food isn’t the most photogenic. The pictures may not tell the story, but trust me, this stuff is delicious!

Filipino Easter Potluck

{Pancit}

Filipino Easter Potluck

{Chicken adobo}

Filipino Easter Potluck

{Lechon (pork)}

Filipino Easter Potluck

{Lumpia}

Filipino Easter Potluck

{Vegan fried rice}

Okay, the rice dish isn’t Filipino, but dad needed something special since the other eats all had meat in them.

Filipino Easter Potluck

Filipino Easter Potluck

All the food was so delicious. I had to have a couple plates to enjoy it while I could.

We had a great time catching up with our family friends and meeting a couple new ones, too! Hubby and I had to hit the road to head home since the potluck was on Sunday, but I think we could have stayed and chatted for hours. We had a fun little group for our Easter celebration.

Filipino Easter Potluck

{Sweet rice}

Filipino Easter Potluck

{Flan}

Filipino Easter Potluck

Can we do this again tomorrow? Yum!

Hope everyone celebrating had a wonderful Easter!

A Hands-On Chinese New Year Party

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Did you do anything fun for Chinese New Year? Hubby and I usually try to get dim sum every year, but this year, we did something even better.

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My friend Briana invited me over for a hands-on Chinese New Year party at her house. The plan – prepare her family’s recipes and learn how to fold dumplings and egg rolls and make other traditional dishes.

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When I arrived, Briana was frying up shrimp chips.

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The colorful discs are small and thin when they come out of the box, but they puff up to at least four times their original size as they fry in oil.

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The fruit platter was easy to put together – just add sliced oranges and stuff cherries into lychee fruit.

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With pineapple added to the center, the simple fruit platter was beautiful and colorful. The oranges are said to bring wealth and good luck.

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After some snacking and gathering, Briana kicked off the real hands-on fun with the party. The dining room table was set-up for dumpling and egg roll making and most of the guests found a seat there.

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I headed into the kitchen to learn about Tang Yuan. I’d never seen anything like it, so I was really curious to see what it was about.

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Glutinous rice is used to make a dough that is rolled into balls and then boiled till they float. Next, the dough balls are cooked in a sweet broth made with pandan leaves, ginger, and sugar.

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The soup is more like a dessert, but I didn’t mind eating it first. It’s always a good time for dessert!

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After finishing with the dessert soup, I checked out what the others were working on – folding egg rolls…

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…and steaming dumplings.

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Time for the big reveal…

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Oh yea!

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Hello, lovelies.

Nothing like freshly steamed dumplings. Briana said the dumplings are shaped like coins to symbolize wealth. I was curious about the coin shape reference since they don’t resemble the round shape of coins I’m familiar with, but this article mentioned that the shape is like ingot-shaped coins or yuanbao.

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These were served with a simple sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, and green onion.

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The dumplings and egg rolls were gobbled up almost as soon as they were cooked. They were both so great! Lucky for us, the group had prepared tons of food. And while batches and batches of Chinese New Year eats were prepared, cooked, and served, we got to enjoy good company from the fellow guests. Also not pictured, we had even more delicious eats that Briana prepared and other guests brought – fried taro root cakes, noodles, kimchi, Filipino sweet rice (that I brought), and Chinese BBQ chicken wings.

By the way, I learned from Steamy Kitchen that the egg rolls also have symbolism since they are shaped like gold bars and thus are said to bring wealth.

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After we’d stuffed ourselves on (mostly) savory eats, Briana got started on dessert #2 – Almond Cookies!

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Briana said she liked to make her cookies a little smaller than normal. They were pretty much bite-sized, and you couldn’t help but want to snack on them like chips.

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They were so yummy!

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And don’t forget about the tea!

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Thank you to Briana for opening up your home to us and sharing your family’s traditions! We had a blast!

Christmas Part Deux 2013

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I hope you all had wonderful holidays this year!

We spent the first half of our Christmas celebrations with hubby’s family in Durham, NC, where we helped Santa bring the tree for the kiddos on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, I caught a 24 hour bug of some sorts and ended up sick on Christmas, so I didn’t take any photos from the day. I slept through a lot of the day, but I did get to partake in two of the key family events – Christmas morning and Christmas dinner. I definitely didn’t want to miss hubby’s family (especially the kids!) opening their presents or catching up with his extended family.

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We headed to Greenville the day after Christmas for part deux of our celebrations.

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By this point, I was not feeling 100%, but I definitely felt a lot better!

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Bailey, on the other hand, had an absolute blast.

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He got to open a ton of presents…

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…and this year my family even got him his own stocking with a “B” on it. So cute!

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I think he was feeling a bit like the Happy Bunny – “It’s all about me. Deal with it.”

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Mom made me some of her famous Get Well Soup (which I’ve blogged about before – click here for the recipe).

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We ended up having to push our Christmas dinner back a couple days (since I’m easing my way back to food), which I feel bad about, but better late than never, right? I’m just so thankful we’ve been able to spend so many days with each of our families. It’s so nice to have some good down time with the people we love to end the year.

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